Six Of The Best: PSiMiTAR | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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PSiMiTAR is North East producer Steesh’s new project as Baron Von Alias with vocalist LKP. Taking influence from 70s funk, 80s soul, and the modern melodic take on alternative hip hop to create their own unique sound. Their just-released debut single, Superficial has just been released and here, the duo tell us about six albums that have influenced them.

For our six of the best, we chose to pick albums that have influenced our sound. Quite handily six divides by two quite nicely so we chose to do a classic album each, and two more recent ones. We both grew up on hip hop, but I (LKP) also went through a lot of RnB and dance music influenced stuff growing up. 

LKP

Outkast – Aquemini
Taking it back to one of my first musical influences it would have to be Outkast, I loved all of their albums in the early days, but especially Aquemini, it definitely found its place in heavy rotation in my retro 5 disc hi-fi system. I just really connected with it, the soulful southern style, really chilled and laid back. From the opening track of Hold on be strong, it takes you on a musical journey of which I had never really experienced before. Aquemini is such a diverse album which displayed all of the multi-dimensional sides to the duo of Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000) and Big Boi. I loved the guitars, the drum patterns, the tracks of straight instrumentation and sung vocals and the tracks with not much vocal at all. The art of storytelling parts 1 & 2 are amazing tracks and should be checked out, the emotion and feeling it always brought to me when I heard it, I still know most of the lyrics to those songs. (spottieottiedopalicious), takes me back to a time and place, those horns, the spoken word, the musical quality in these tracks was something I hadn’t really experienced much of before listening to the hip hop that I did. Andre was always one of my favourite rappers, I loved his voice, the lyrics and delivery.. how effortless it seemed to be, it’s a classic for me, alongside southernplayalisticcadillacmusic and ATLiens. One of the all-time greats.

Tyler, the Creator – Scumfuck Flowerboy
I had always been a fan of odd future, but for me this album really stood out as Tyler finding his style and direction. With it mostly being self-produced too, I loved the whole sound of the album.. and when albums are self-produced I always connect with them more as its how I tend to work myself. The sounds and synths used, the erratic drum patterns and slightly unexpected vocals which weave in and out of the album just really grabbed my attention. See you again, Who Dat Boy, Boredom and November are probably a few of the stand out tracks for me. I love the mix of rap and sung vocals, male and female, even the rawness of some of the badly sung vocals, it just all works so well for me and forms a really cohesive album from beginning to end. I also just love how weird the lad can be with his style and ideas, the clothes and wigs.. the music videos. I suppose I see a little of myself in what he does. 

Mac Miller – Swimming
Where do I begin with this album.. one of my now all-time favourites I think. I had always been a fan of Mac but more from a distance really… until this album, then he really jumped out as a firm favourite and I think I have listened to this album more than any other album, ever. The fact he passed away a few months after it was released just made everything in the songs and the lyrics so much more poignant. The emotion, the pain, the acceptance, the clarity.. all of it.. as an album just perfection for me. The production is just amazing and each track is so different yet blends together as an album perfectly, Self Care… when the beat switches up… What’s The Use… when that Thundercat bassline comes in.. Small Worlds when the John Mayer guitar comes in… all such amazing moments for me. The final track, So It Goes.. that synth at the end..it reminds me of Macs final Instagram story.. I watched him post a video of his record player playing out that track the night he died.. so it always hits home when I hear it.
All of these albums are classics to me, amazing musical projects, diverse and experimental, self-produced and pushing the boundaries of what the fans expected and all smashed it out of the park. All of these albums, among many more like them, have brought me musically to where you find me today.. experimenting with something I have wanted to create for a long time, but only now feeling comfortable enough to do so. I highly recommend all of these albums as they have inspired and motivated me so much over recent years. Check them out and see if you can hear their influence in our new music, cheers.

Steesh

Kaytranada – 99.9%
My first choice. It was a close call between this and his new album Bubba, and they both have a great blend of modern dance music, 00s RnB songwriting, and a selection of incredible guests. The debut shades it for me as it was a good stress relief at a very stressful time of my life, as it has guest spots from Phonte and  Anderson Paak (who I couldn’t really pick as an influence as I cannot match his levels of coolness if I tried for a dozen lifetimes, but I love so much of his music) with Glowed Up being a massive highlight. When the drums switch up and Paak changes from an aggressive delivery with over thundering bass in the first half, to singing the second half of the song over a more skippy drum pattern, it was the moment I had to hit rewind on the track and turn the volume up. Lite Spots has a cool as fuck video, and I have been able to drop tracks like One Too Many and Together into most RnB mix sets, great songs with slightly different takes on the ‘love, love, love’ themes of most 90s and 00s I like, giving them a more modern sound. I hoped I would love this album as I had been following his edits and remixes for a while, and it cemented him as one of the best producers and songwriters of the last decade for me. 

Dwele – Some Kinda
 I found my feet with DJIng and singing in my late teens and early 20s, and although I had never really noticed at the time, my favourite artists were all on the smoother end of the RnB spectrum, from Musiqsoulchild, D’Angelo and Maxwell to Jagged Edge and Jon B. I loved the whole neo-soul vibe, and I was trying to combine this with the music I was making at the time. I remember getting the promo copy of this and playing the whole thing on repeat, which as a DJ is pretty much unheard of as you are constantly looking for the things that will work on a dance-floor. Again, I could have easily picked his debut, but this time the sophomore project stuck in my head a bit more, it has a great balance of slow jams and mid-tempo clubbier tracks, and a great deal of it is self-produced. I love Dwele’s way with words, from Old Lovas, A Pimp’s Dream, and Weekend Love.  The themes behind the songs always hit a chord with me, and I loved his way of writing in a new way about themes that had been covered plenty times before. The whole album is pretty heavily jazz-influenced, and was a step away from the direction RnB had taken at the time (this was more in keeping with D’Angelo’s Spanish Joint than it was to Usher’s Yeah) and features one of my favourite groups, Slum Village, on the Dilla produced ‘Keep On’. I was lucky enough to catch Dwele perform most of these songs at The Jazz Cafe, one of the best gigs I have ever been too, and I’ll always think of him as one of the most underrated of that era of soulful music. 

Children of Zeus – Travel Light.  
I was introduced to Konny Kon and Tyler Daley in this guise when I heard their early single ‘Still Standing’, I bloody love that song, but I recognised Konny Kon’s name from when he was DJing for Broke’n’English when I was trying to make it with my first group in the mid-2000s. There are so many reasons this album is a major influence on me in 2020. For starters, it’s British, not only that, it’s from the North. Secondly, it’s by two guys who have been in the game for a long time. Thirdly, they have done it themselves, and have got some great support from big names in the scene with a shit load of hard work, a great catalogue and networking non-stop. They have found a signature sound, and are knocking it out of the park. This album has a smooth, neo-soul vibe, and interesting production and great features, not to mention fantastic features from Terri Walker and more. Songs like ‘Daddy’s Car’ seem to speak to me as a kid who grew up learning to sing in the back of my parents Toyota when I hadn’t even finished primary school. Much like the other two albums I picked, it has some great takes on classic themes, this time with a UK twist, lyrically ‘Hoodman2Manhood’ is just perfect, and hopefully, it passes a useful message on. Although it is musically fantastic, to see them succeeding as two veterans of their scene, it gives me hope that we might just get somewhere with PsiMiTAR. 

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